Who will fill rider representation void?

MRAQ Rider representative group closes down

The RACQ says it will help fill the perceived void in rider representation to government after the Motorcycle Riders Association of Queensland officially closed last week.

Former president Chris Mearns blamed the MRAQ closure on rider apathy.

Comments on our article about the closure last week offer a wide variety of views of the efficacy of the MRAQ and whether it should continue or be replaced by another organisation. 

Minister advised

RACQ spokesman Steve Spalding, Road Safety Minister Mark Bailey and MRAQ president Chris Mearns - learner riders
Transport Minister Mark Bailey (centre) with RACQ spokesman Steve Spalding and MRAQ president Chris Mearns at a 2015 media event

Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey says he and the department were advised of the MRAQ’s closure.

However, he suggests it leaves no void in rider representation at a government level.

“TMR regularly engages with several stakeholders on matters that relate to Queensland riders and will continue to do so,” the Minister says.

“For example, RACQ are consulted on all initiatives in addition to attending regular meetings, a Q-Ride industry forum is held annually, and Q-Ride trainers have a dedicated contact officer within TMR to contact about Q-ride and other motorcycle related matters.”

The RACQ is the biggest club in Queensland with more than a million paid members and most likely the largest number of motorcycle riders.

Will RACQ fill void?

Steve Spalding RACQ void
Steve Spalding RACQ

Several of the key RACQ staff are also riders, including Technical and Safety Officer Steve Spalding.

“The RACQ regularly contributes to government policy and local council discussions on motorcycle issues, particularly road safety, to promote greater awareness of rider vulnerability, along with practical advice and information that helps makes it safer for them,” Steve says.

“RACQ has also supported greater theft prevention awareness by partnering with the Queensland Police Service on securing motorcycles parked at home or in public spaces.

“We successfully advocated for the reinstatement of government funding for the National Motor Vehicle Theft Reduction Council which tracks and collates data on all vehicle theft including motorcycles.

Motorcycle theft Senior Constable Tony Tatkovich and Steve Spalding RACQ
Senior Constable Tony Tatkovich and Steve Spalding RACQ with a motorcycle disc lock

“RACQ provides advice to members on motorcycle ownership, care and maintenance, through its technical advisory service and recently appointed a Mackay based Approved Riding School to help learners in that area connect with a Q-Ride trainer,” Steve says.

Advisory group

In the void of a rider-initiated representative group, we asked Minister Bailey if he was considering a ministerial advisory panel of motorcycle experts.

The Victorian Government had the Motorcycle Experts Advisory Committee, but is now in the throes of replacing it with the new Motorcycling Community Engagement Panel.

However, Minister Bailey says TMR is “not considering a motorcycle riders panel”.

“However, the department welcomes any opportunity to improve engagement with Queensland riders and industry,” he says.

New group?

Jimboomba police training course pilot program
Steve McDowall

Former MRAQ member and SMART Rider trainer Steve McDowall says he has had discussions with riders since the meeting.

“A number of us recognise the need for a body that adequately represents the interests of riders in Queensland, both to government and amongst the community in general,” he says.

“There has to be perceivable benefits for riders and an organisation that the government can have faith in.

“I’m not suggesting that the MRAQ didn’t have that trust from the government but it’s obvious that it didn’t have the support of the riding community.

“How we create that body/organisation that meets those criteria is what the initial discussions have been around, and at this time there are no definite plans in place but there is a desire among a group of us to ensure that body is created.

“It’s going to be a massive task.”

Motorbike Writer comment

Rider apathy seems to be in abundance nationwide as many riders gravitate to free and informal social media groups.

Consequently, incorporated rider representative associations struggle for paid members and volunteers to nominate for laborious and thankless executive positions.

In the midst of such endemic apathy there seems little point in trying to fill any perceived void in advocacy with yet another doomed association.

As Albert Einstein is oft (probably erroneously) quote:

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

I must disclose I am an RACQ member, I write their monthly motorbike review and am good riding mates with Steve Spalding and motoring editor Barry Green (another rider).

For all its flaws, the RACQ provides perhaps the best advocacy for motorcyclists of any of the state automotive clubs.

It would have the largest number of motorcyclists in its membership so it owes we riders to properly represent us.

I trust Steve and RACQ’s advocacy team will work hard to push our cause in the boardrooms and backrooms, and I am hopeful that in the next few months we can organise a joint survey on rider needs.

In the meantime, riders who a re members can contact the RACQ if they need assistance with an issue.

Instead, I fear the same vocal “keyboard warriors” who helped destroy the MRAQ will continue to white-ant rider groups around the country.

6 Comments

  1. The Australian Chapter of the World Apathy Association was also closed down due to lack of interest.
    A meeting of the Australian Clairvoyants Society was recently cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances.
    Nostalgia ain’t wot it used to be.

  2. Apathy is a killer. I’ve seen in firearm, fishing and four wheel drive communities where apathy, the whole ‘that won’t affect me attitude’, has given a free kick to those who for whatever reason are opposed to a given activity. The expression ‘a death of a thousand cuts’ is one based on historic experience.

    As an aside RACQ could get some proper bike trailers for breakdowns. Rather than trying to tie down a bike to a greasy slippery metal deck of a tilt tray.

  3. How about racq creating a motorcyclist dedicated decision and product within itself? With so many motorcyclists as members and so many additional potential members, surely it would make a decent business case?

  4. I think we need a meeting with the RACQ to discuss relevant issues relating to motorcycling. I know a few people who would like that opportunity including myself. There is a long list of issues that need to be taken to Mr Bailey.

    1. Well said John Burrell …
      I am also an RACQ member being an ex Motorcycle Instructor and 43 yrs continuous Motorcyclist ,had a vast experience in Rider Training, Licensing, and Defensive Riding Courses and some experience with MRAQ in the founding years in the late 70’s..and 80’s
      The advocacy needs a fresh professional approach with people experienced with Motorcycling issues, people who want to promote a better image for motorcyclists and take on the many complex issues facing them daily.
      The body representing Motorcyclists needs to be an independent body (not a business).
      As John Burrell said quote ‘There is a long list of issues that need to be taken to Mr Bailey.’ by people with a long history and memory.

  5. Good to hear the RACQ are representing all motorists, including motorcyclists.
    What would be useful, is if they can publicise their advocacy efforts and policy’e relating to our motorcycling community, and also make the consultative process (prior to identifying suitable policies) widely known amongst the community.
    There will of course always be differing views on how policy should be driven, however as long as all opinions are heard, considered, and the resulting policy is justified with due consideration of all opinions, it will be a great start.
    How does the RACQ consult and communicate with the motorcycling community?

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